McConnell signals Senate impeachment trial talks stalled until January

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellIn rare move, Schumer forces vote to consider health care bill amid Supreme Court tensions COVID-19 talks hit crucial stretch Supreme Court nominee gives no clues in GOP meeting MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday signaled that talks about the rules on a Trump impeachment trial are in limbo until senators return to Washington in roughly two weeks.

McConnell, asked about potential witnesses while speaking to reporters in Kentucky, demurred saying they would figure out the status of negotiations once Congress comes back next month.

"I think we'll find out when we come back in session where we are," McConnell told reporters.

ADVERTISEMENT

McConnell's comments come after lawmakers left town Thursday without a deal on the rules for the proceeding or an agreement on specific witnesses or Ukraine-related documents being pushed for by Democrats.

McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate Warren won't meet with Barrett, calling Trump's nomination an 'illegitimate power grab' Schumer won't meet with Trump's Supreme Court pick MORE (D-N.Y.) met for the first time on Thursday to try to reach a deal on the chamber's rules for an impeachment trial.

Schumer is requesting four witnesses as well as Ukraine-related documents, detailed in a "Dear Colleague" letter he sent Monday. He also wants the Senate to pass one resolution at the outset of the trial that would establish the rules and what witnesses will be called.  

McConnell has said he personally does not want witnesses to be called by either side, though he's stressed that the GOP caucus as a whole has not made a final decision. He’s calling for two resolutions, one at the outset that would establish procedure and a second after the trial starts that would call for any potential witnesses if 51 senators decide they want specific individuals to testify.  

McConnell said after his meeting with Schumer on Thursday that they were at an "impasse." The Senate GOP leader reiterated that during an appearance on Monday on "Fox & Friends," and said the Thursday meeting was the last time he spoke to Schumer.

ADVERTISEMENT

Senators expect the trial to start in January, though the exact date is in limbo until after the House transmits the two articles. House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP seeks to redirect criticism over Trump tax returns House rebuffs GOP lawmaker's effort to remove references to Democrats in Capitol Grassley says disclosing Trump's tax records without authorization could violate law MORE (D-Calif.) has not said when they will be sent over, stressing that they want to see what agreement McConnell and Schumer can come up with.

"We can't do anything until the speaker sends the papers over," McConnell added on Monday. "So everybody enjoy the holidays."

The Senate is scheduled to return to Washington on Friday, Jan. 3, with the first roll call votes scheduled for Monday, Jan. 6. The House isn't expected to come back in session until Tuesday, Jan. 7.